There are around 110 employee-owned companies operating, with approximately 7,500 employee-owners generating a combined turnover of around £950 million. In recent years, the model has proved particularly popular with businesses operating in the care sector. Clare Alexander, head of Co-operative Development Scotland, shares their stories and explores why they are drawn to employee ownership.
Employee ownership has consistently shown to improve staff engagement and wellbeing, which in the care sector, leads to better patient experience and outcomes. As owners, employees also have a say in how the business is run, and clients and their families are reassured that the business will remain rooted in the area and be run for the benefit of local people.
These benefits are clearly demonstrated by Highland Home Carers, Stewartry Care, Paramount Care, Caledonia Social Care, and Aspire Housing and Personal Development Services.
Highland Home Carers (HHC) was founded in 1994 and became employee-owned in 2004. Since then, the business has grown to become one of the largest independent providers of home care and support services in Scotland with over 500 staff.
The company aims to deliver the highest possible standards of care, enabling people in the Highlands to remain in their homes and in their local communities for as long as possible. Moving into employee-ownership has ensured that HHC’s unique ethos was secure and provided a platform for growth.
Dumfries and Galloway-based Stewartry Care also became an employee owned company in 2004. Turnover increased by 16% in the first year and profitability by 39% and the company has continued to grow. Employees benefit from being informed on performance and having a say, with the opportunity to stand for election as a Director or Trustee of the company. The firm was awarded Care at Home Provider of the Year in the Scottish Care Awards 2018, with clients benefiting from a highly motivated care team.
Paramount Care, set up in 2000 by nurse Ruth Smyth who had a vision of a personalised care service that placed people at its heart, became employee-owned in 2017. It operates throughout Fife, Tayside, Perthshire and Clackmannanshire, delivering a range of services within people’s homes and within residential care homes for the public and private sectors.
Paramount was founded with the aim of providing a personal and approachable care service, where clients or employees wouldn’t have to call bases in locations like London or Birmingham whenever they had a query. Its aim was to provide a high quality of care with close and trusting relationships between carers and clients. Ruth felt that these qualities, which set Paramount apart from other care firms, could be compromised if it was bought over by one of them.
By selling it to an Employee Ownership Trust, Paramount Care continues to operate as an independent company rooted in the local area, run by people who care about it.
Caledonia Social Care (CSC) delivers care at home services throughout central Scotland and launched as an employee-owned enterprise on EO Day 2017 (30 June).
The launch of CSC represented a real boost to Scotland’s care sector, with an empowered workforce of 150 employee owners committed to providing an exceptional level of care to 480 clients. The firm benefits from high levels of colleague engagement, fair employment practices and lower staff turnover which helps lead to better outcomes for staff and service users.
The most recent care provider in Scotland to become employee-owned is Aspire Housing and Personal Development Services, which made the move in June 2019 with 186 social care employees becoming owners.
Aspire is passionate about empowering the individuals it supports to achieve a better life and a more self-directed and optimistic future, and employee ownership was an effective way to demonstrate this commitment to its employees as well. It enhances their opportunities to be more involved in contributing to the growth and development of the business, and allows them to equitably share the benefits from Aspire’s future successes.
In a sector where attracting and retaining the best people can have such a significant impact on performance, it’s easy to see why a business model which motivates, empowers and rewards them stands out. We look forward to more care providers recognising the benefits of the model and supporting them to become employee-owned in the future.